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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAlbany: Living in Greener Places May Protect Against Obesity

A recent study from an international team including University at Albany School of Public Health’s Drs. Shao Lin and Michael S. Bloom shows that living in greener places may protect against obesity.

Greenness is normally considered to benefit health by reducing exposures to unfavorable environmental factors, relieving stress, and promoting physical activities. This study aimed to investigate whether residing in greener space was associated with reduced prevalence of obesity.

The research team, led by Dr. Guanghui Dong at Sun Yat-sen University, analyzed data on 24,845 adults in 33 urban communities in northeastern China. Participants completed a questionnaire about their demographic characteristics, lifestyle, and diagnosed health problems while measurements of height, weight, and waist circumference were obtained during a clinical exam. Community greenness was assessed by remote sensing data from satellites.

Analysis showed that greater amounts of greenness in a community were associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and obesity. “In particular, the impacts appeared to be most substantial among women, older individuals and for those with lower household incomes,” the authors write.

These findings, published in Science of The Total Environment, highlight the importance of integrating preventative health strategies into urban designs to mitigate the growing obesity epidemic in China and elsewhere worldwide, and to target prevention efforts in vulnerable subpopulations.

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